Here we go…

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My muse came crashing back into my life this past week, so here I am bonding with the laptop on a snowy Saturday afternoon, determined to create.

Muses can be kind or cruel, but as long as they’re communicating and pushing us to create, they’re doing their job, right? And the characters in my novel have been nothing more than distant friends for too long, like old high school friends, or friends from out of state that I haven’t seen for years. But now they’re back in the picture, demanding the attention they deserve, so we’re getting reacquainted.

I pitched my novel to a top agent a little while back and she enthusiastically asked me to submit my entire manuscript for her to read and… And, like a self-inflicted taser blast to the, uhh, let’s say gut, I didn’t send it. It wasn’t ready, that’s for sure. But, while that should have motivated me to work both day and night to edit and re-write and completely clean it up to send it to her, it pushed me in the other direction, to all of those thoughts of doubt that make looking at the page on the screen cause heart palpitations.

So, I blew it. And that taser left its mark.

But while muses might be silent for long stretches, they don’t quit on you. They pop back in, put you in a headlock (yeah, my muse is a bad ass) and make it clear that they won’t let go until you’ve done what you’re supposed to do. And what I’m supposed to do is write. So, it’s at least 5 chapters edited today, and 1,000 words added, or else my muse won’t let me sleep tonight. And I’m okay with that… As long as she doesn’t pull out the taser.

Wow, I’m actually back!

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As November begins, and with it, NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), I thought it was a perfect opportunity to get back into blogging on here…. After all, as I have an agent wanting – and waiting – to read my latest finished novel and, since it’s not actually finished yet, I need something to distract me from working on it full time to save some sanity, right? Well, it makes sense to me anyway…

I’ll admit that finding motivation both to write and to read other writers’ works has been difficult recently. It’s amazing how you can be given more time to accomplish things and then feel less like doing it than ever before. I’ve heard from other writers who have been going through that same drought of motivation over the past months though. Not that I would wish that on anyone, but it’s nice to know that I’m not alone. It’s like all of the muses have taken an extended break while the world went nuts. But it’s time to get back to it and kick things into gear, even if my own individual muse has apparently disappeared into witness protection.

I don’t know how other writers work through their ideas but I have post-it notes, emails I sent to myself, notes on my phone, scribbles on legal pads, etc. that I need to dig through to see what’s worth saving. I never claimed to be efficient or organized, but creative types are supposed to be a mess – or messy – aren’t they? The picture for the dust jacket of my novel definitely isn’t going to be taken in my office/man cave/disaster area. I’m thinking I’m going to play off of all of the pictures musicians use of themselves randomly hanging out on railroad tracks. Only I’ll be carrying my laptop.

But before then, I need to finish the novel…. So I’ll cut this short and get back to it. After all, I’m supposed to write at least 1,000 words today for the NaNoWriMo challenge and I’m about…1,000 words away for hitting that goal. Muse or no muse, it’s time to write!

Helter Shelter

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The goal…

As I sit in front of my laptop, running my fingers through my winter beard and wondering if spring has really arrived, I find myself doing a lot of thinking…

Of course that’s nothing new to me. My mind is usually on overdrive. But there’s one topic in particular that has been traveling round and round in my brain these days.

For those of you who really know me, you know that I’ve been going through a lot lately. There are some times in life that are simply more complicated than others and, when you find yourself going through those times, it can open your eyes to see things a bit more clearly.

I know that I’m meant to write. That’s never been in doubt, ever since my mom paid me $1.00 for my short story “Quentin and Blentin”, written (with illustrations) when I was six. But, in addition to writing, there’s the matter of figuring out just how to give back and help others with what we do with our lives. And…that’s what I’ve been deeply thinking about lately.

I’ve volunteered at animal shelters and would recommend that to anyone. But that hasn’t been enough and I’ve been thinking bigger…

There’s one animal shelter located here in this county and, while they seem to do a very good job, they’re small. So there’s a limit to all the good they can accomplish. And, shortly before I moved to this area, the local SPCA was shut down, leaving a definite void. So..I’d love to build my own rescue.

Graham wasn’t a fan of dogs, other cats, birds, snakes, squirrels, or basically all animals he met other than moles and groundhogs for some reason, so it might be a bit strange to build an animal rescue in his memory, but his loss definitely triggered a passion in me to do more. Much more.

This is where it gets complicated though…

If I do it, I want to do it right. And large… I’ve worked out so many of the details and know that it would be a massive project. I’d want to build on at least 20 acres, and build a campus -type facility with multiple buildings (and the ability to build more if they would be needed later.

The dogs would live in structures that would mimic small houses that would allow them more comfort while they waited to be adopted and to also get strays used to living in that type of environment.

There would be an exercise/training course area where their confidence could be built and large dog runs for them to enjoy.

I have someone in mind to discuss plans for setting up multiple areas for cats to live comfortably and where people can meet them and interact with them. And, with so many feral cats living in the area, I’d have an ongoing CNR (Catch, Neuter, Return) program established to control the cat population in the county.

After all, if I’m going to do it, I’m going to do it right.

Of course that means millions of dollars for land and construction. Dozens of volunteers and people who are knowledgeable and passionate enough to foster. A small group of people to serve on the board of directors and a large network of veterinarian clinics. A staff to ensure the animals are fed, kept clean, walked, trained, shown love, etc. Corporate and individual donors, food, litter, toys, vehicles for rescue and transport… Especially since every time I see a notice online about an animal who is scheduled to be euthanized unless they’re rescued I want to hop in the car and go get it, no matter where it’s at. You get the idea. It’s a major project that I have in mind.

Every penny that I would receive from sales of Graham’s ‘autobiography’ could go into the rescue, but there would need to be fundraisers, donor drives, t-shirt sales, etc. And that’s where I’d need to come up with a great name for the rescue that would look great on merchandise, for people all over the country to want and purchase…

I have a few crazy ideas at this point that could help get it off the ground. And, even though I know raising millions to start what would be the biggest rescue in this part of the country would be a massive challenge, it would be a true labor of love. And the most important part of the project now is to find the people who would want to be a part of this with me. The world of animal rescue isn’t easy, but for those who are passionate about it, all of the struggle is worth it. So I hope to start out by finding the right team to work with.

I’ve already got an idea for the lobby of the visitor center in mind. This painted on the wall for everyone to see…

For Graham… He didn’t like other animals but his love inspired every the rescue of every animal here

Mixing Holidays and Writing

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It’s late on Thanksgiving night and I’m home alone after driving over dark, practically empty highways listening to Thriving Ivory Radio on Pandora, night music that gets me thinking, even as I test out the Bose speakers that are set into most every panel of my car.

When I left my family gathering tonight,  the couches were full of relatives who had eaten too many courses of rich food while I had picked through the options that allowed me to hold firm to my non-animal diet. Not that I was judgmental with anyone – after all I was completely outnumbered – but that’s just what I’ve chosen for my life now.

I saved my arguments for a few people online who believed that our football team lost today because of our quarterback when, in reality, when your tight end chooses not to run his route (or even look for the ball) because the play is designed to get the pass to the running back who ends up being covered, the interception isn’t the quarterback’s fault. But I digress…

As I was driving home, I was thinking through my current writing projects. Now, in addition to completing my novel Rock Bottom, Michigan, I’ve started a memoir, told from Graham’s perspective, titled They Call Me Trouble. The goal would be to sell this one with proceeds going toward animal shelters I’ve been involved with that definitely could use the help. Heck, maybe if it would do well enough, a couple new shelters could be created.

Tiny Trouble

Of course the memoir would be Graham’s perspective on both of our lives. There were so many things that happened in both of our lives during the eleven years of his life. There will be stories of love, of changes, of moves, of growth. There will also be stories of pain, of heartbreak, and of depression. It’s amazing how close we all are to the end. One injection that takes away all muscle control, and one that stops the heart forever. It makes you think how fleeting it all is.

It’s hard to write, but it should be cathartic. And hopefully it will be as deep as I want it to be. More than a simple tale of the life of a special cat. And more about what we all go through in our lives – about regrets, the memories that stick with us forever, and how we deal with our weaknesses and scars, even while we hide them from the world. Hopefully it will tell universal truths while telling a unique story.

And…if any of you have some good stories about those past 11 years that you want to make sure I don’t forget to add, reach out and remind me!  And if you have any pictures of Graham to share, feel free to send those as well. Those years flew by, but I know there were tons of moments that jumped out to more than just me.

The possible cover art for They Call Me Trounle

I hope you’ve all had a wonderful Thanksgiving. Obviously my mind is all over the place as the night winds down, but I’m thinking of the people who impacted my life and gave me the best stories to remember. People who, at the moment, are too far away across more long, dark highways. Guess I need to sing along to a few more songs as I imagine  putting the pedal down to drive…

Life, and Textbook Amy Krause Rosenthal

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Life’s short.

Sure, that’s really not a unique, insightful, or even a pithy thought.  But it’s a thought that means something completely different to me than it used to.  It doesn’t have anything to do with time – it’s not a countdown to a total we all hope will exceed 100 years on this planet.  Because none of us have the slightest clue just how long we’ll last around here.  My mom passed away at 43.  My best friend died at 11.  My physics partner died while driving to work when he was only 18 while my grandmother just kept going and going ’till she was 93.  Kurt Cobain chose to leave us at 27 and Tom Petty somehow managed to surprise us by leaving when he was 66.  It’s like a random number generator and we’re all just hoping to have the highest number on our ticket when death comes along to punch it.

But, if I may pull away from such morbid thoughts, I believe that the true shortness of life is simply a relation to our individual perspectives on life.  And that perspective changes in ways that don’t have anything to do with the ticking of the clock.  In my life, I’ve seen my life flash before my eyes on three separate occasions. You know that slow-motion moment where life completely stops and reminds you of all that you’ve done and everywhere you’ve been just as you resign yourself to the idea that you’re seriously about to die?

Or maybe, if you’re fortunate, you haven’t actually experienced one of those crazy, life-changing moments yet.  They can be terrifying.  But even so, there’s also a certain peace to it, even in that split second moment when all you can  think is, “Oh &#+$.  This is it.”

Once that moment passes you by, it makes you think about how much your life has changed since the days when you were a kid, about all of the choices that you’ve made, and those that life made for you.  It’s about perspective.  There are the choices you can see in the rear-view that led you along different paths than the child in you ever expected you to take.  And there are the days that surprise you as you wonder how did I get here and what in the world am I doing?

So just what does all of this have to do with a book…?  I’ll explain…

I’ve really been slacking on my review writing lately. There’s no doubt about that.  But what’s really bad about that is that I’ve really been finding out just how small the world is these days…

Though people don’t really seem to like leaving comments on here (hint hint), this site has led to me hearing from many different people across the country – including some of the authors that I’ve reviewed. So I do feel a different sense of responsibility now to do more to promote books and the authors who have put in so much work to create them…

Textbook Amy Krouse Rosenthal was published in 2016 so it’s not exactly new, but it’s not that old either.  But, in the time that’s gone by between publication and now, a lot has happened.  You may have heard of the author, even if you don’t recognize her name.  She became famous for writing her “Modern Love” essay through the New York Times that was written in the form of a dating profile for her husband, to assist him with the crazy possibility of him remarrying after her death.  She had been diagnosed with ovarian cancer and passed away ten days after the essay was published.  But, as she rushed toward the end, she’d been worried more about his happiness going forward than she was about her own untimely death.  Her number was only 51 by the way…

But it was the attitude she carried with her all the way to the end of her life that meant more than any number.  Her perspective.

In the beginning notes of the book, Amy wrote this:

Existence is akin to a 300,000-hours-long game of whack-a-mole where the grand prize dangling in the back row is your inevitable death.  But I’ll tell you what:  On any given day, you sure can find a nice array of free, tasty samples at the grocery store

That’s the attitude of someone I really wish I knew.

At one point, this is the only comment written across 2 white pages:

Just look at us, all of us, quietly doing our thing and trying to matter.  The earnestness is inspiring and heartbreaking at the same time.

And I completely agree.  I’d like to believe that the fairy tale still exists if we’re not too scared – too cowardly –  to pursue it.  That the Cubs winning the World Series was far more than a sporting event.  That we’re all capable of being the best versions of ourselves when tragedies strike around us.  That we all just want to make a difference before the door closes behind us.

Textbook Amy Krouse Rosenthal is one of those books that you need to read.  And re-read.  Because in just few words, spread across a number of different subjects we can all relate to, it teaches us that we’re all more the same than we take time to realize.  And that we’re far from being as complex as we like to think.  We all want lives that are special, we all want to be loved, and we all want someone to pick us up when we trip over our own metaphorical feet.  It’s not that complicated.  But sometimes we need that kick in the back side to remind us to make the most of the small number of years we’re allowed to orbit around that sun.  To remind us that when life flashes in front of our eyes, it moves fast, especially if we haven’t taken the time to fill it up with only the best.  Though I’m okay if I don’t have any more of those flashes for a long time.  If you do it right, life can be exciting enough without going to that extreme…

The Acadamy Award Before a Man Booker Prize?

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I’ll admit that most times in life, the book is way better than then the movie.  But, as I’ve been working through the editing process on my current novel today, along with jotting down a few sentences here and there for two new books (I have at least 14 ideas yet to turn into novels currently so writer’s block definitely isn’t an issue), I’ve been picturing one of my ideas in movie form.  And that thought has really been holding my attention this evening…

Moving away from the Minneapolis area wasn’t easy on me for a number of reasons, but one of them was leaving behind an area that held so many creative people.  When you can go to a cafe and see a sign asking you to add your information if you’ve written part of your novel there, you know you’re living among creative people.   And when it takes you a while to decide on which of the many available theatre performances in which of the theatre districts to attend on a Friday night, and the people you’re out on the town with are actors/actresses themselves, you know you’re in an area that really supports creative endeavors.

One of my upcoming novels will actually be using the idea that there’s a lack of a creative community here in Fayette County (actually playing off some similar structures to Nick Hornby’s  A Long Way Down – though without such a life and death issue about it).  A chance to kind of make a creative tribute to the lack of creative environment I guess…  But for this other idea I’ve been playing with, it frustrates me to be in a position where I don’t have those people out in such numbers.  Because I’d truly love to actually make this idea into a movie.  Maybe someone  working with me to put my ideas into completed script form, a few of us going out with handheld cameras, someone to hold some cheap lights to make it look right, some people willing to be in front of the camera, and someone to work with who knows enough to assist with editing.  That’s not too much to ask for, right?

And actually, there are really only two main characters in my story idea.  And one of them is deceased and would appear in numerous flashbacks (do I have you intrigued yet?).  There would also be a need for a rescue dog, another character who would become a secondary main character as the story goes into Act II and III.  Plus people willing to let us film in their restaurants, stores and other businesses.  And someone who wouldn’t mind their car being damaged a bit for a specific, necessary scene.  See…I’m not just throwing this out as a crazy idea that gets forgotten the next day…  I’ve actually put a little thought into it.

I’ve fleshed out the story and it just seems like something that would work so well in a visual way (and would be so much fun to pursue).  I have to blame some of the idea on Amy Shark since I was listening to her music as I was writing and a couple of her songs pushed my thinking into a whole different direction.  Leave Us Alone especially has the overall feel that the movie would pursue.  Seriously, listen to it if you’re curious.  I think I would need to ask her to use it in the soundtrack when we’re finished.

Sure, this movie would be as independent as an independent film could be, but does that matter?  Life only lasts so long and wouldn’t it be great to do something that so few people ever do?

So if you see me staring at you as I walk through Target, or the grocery store, don’t be insulted.  I’m just trying to see if I could visualize you as lead material, or if you could at least fit as background talent.  And if I seem to be following you through the parking lot, it’s just to see what you’re driving and to find out how attached to it you are.  You know us creative types…

Until the Next Time I See You…

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Always comfy in the weirdest spots…

The words come fast, but not as fast as the tears…

The memories pour out – all of the many good times and great times – and pain cruelly attaches itself to each of them as they fly through my head and my heart.  I can’t stop them and, even though each of them come with complete agony, I would never want them to stop.  Because now there are no more new memories that are going to be made.

Because at approximately 11:45am on June 19th, Graham passed away…

I knew absolutely nothing about cats before I adopted that tiny little orange 6-week-old kitten with fur that stuck up in every direction like he’d been rubbing up against a balloon.  As soon as I met him, he climbed up on my shoulder (my right shoulder, the same one he always climbed onto for the rest of his life) as he picked me as his person, and I was the one who was terrified.  I didn’t even know that his foster was expecting me to take him home that day.  I simply thought that I was meeting him to gain enough information to make a decision at a later date.  But, once he’d made his decision, that was it.  I was his, he was mine and it was time to go home.

He was named Punky at the time, but obviously that couldn’t last.  He had the look for that name perhaps, but it wasn’t good enough to do him justice.  On the half hour drive home, as he paced around in a cardboard box set on the passenger seat he howled, the only time I ended up hearing his voice for the first couple of years.  He lived his life interacting with everyone around him simply with looks and gestures that accomplished everything that he needed.  A tilt of his head, a little push on the ankle to guide someone in the right direction, an extended gaze directed toward the top of the refrigerator where his treats were stored, those were all he needed.

When he arrived at his forever home and hopped out of the box, he searched through every inch of the place with complete confidence and I never saw him scared another day in his life.  He only (intentionally) scratched two people in his eleven years.  One was a four-year-old boy who had chased him into a corner behind a couch and proceeded to drop toys onto his head, wanting him to play with them.  The other was a vet technician on the day before he died when she attempted to prepare him for an X-ray.  He was a complete sweetheart, but he had fight, all the way to the end.  And he won everyone over.  Even that little boy who had been scratched let me know a few weeks ago that he was praying for Graham ever since he’d heard that he was sick.  You couldn’t stay mad at that little guy.

He couldn’t stand other cats and chased all of the strays out of the yard without fail.  He seemed so small to me, but he ran the neighborhood and no one stood up to him, cats and dogs alike.  He played with the moles that dug up the mulch, got along with the family of groundhogs that lived down the hill, and caught moths and flies in his mouth, only to spit them back out unharmed to watch them fly away again.  He killed one bird in his life, a moment that completely surprised him.  He launched himself into the air as it flew by and he landed on top of it as they came down, stopping its terrified little heart.  And, after that moment, all of the birds in the area knew him well and harassed him.  Because they feared him.  It was amazing to see the change in him when he went outside and transformed from the great cuddler into the great hunter.  Though, in his last days, he preferred to sleep in the mulch between the bushes and simply listen to the breeze.

Beside me as I type this now, I have a box containing 3 plaster cast footprints that were made after his death, and a lock of his fur – containing both the orange and the white.  And I hold the memory of holding his little body as he took his last breath, tears and snot dripping down onto the top of his head as I kissed him and told him that I loved him one more time.  I knew nothing about cats when I met him, but he taught me.  And so much more.

Below is a link to a video I took just a couple of days before he died.  When he wandered around outside, he liked to stop in the gravel lane and gesture for me to come over and give him a belly rub.  This time, there was a bird yelling at him and, in this video he tells that bird that he doesn’t have time to mess with him because he’s too busy enjoying the moment.  I’ve probably watched it a hundred times since he died, because I think it sums Graham up so well.  His loving nature, his toughness, and his desire for great quality time with the human he picked to be his companion throughout his life.

Goodbye Graham.  I’ll always miss you and I’m looking forward to getting that big Grahamie welcome home hug the next time I see you…






2 Nights in the Cage

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Graham waking up in Lockdown

I’ve been sitting on this blog for a few months because it’s been an incredibly tough one to write.  But this past week has been Graham’s 11th birthday week (we don’t know for sure on which day he was born so we might as well celebrate it for the whole week, right?) so it seemed like the right time to try and push through it all to tell the tale…

It started back in March.  What started out as nothing more than a routine vet visit (with the expectations of a couple of basic – yet annoying to the patient – shots) led to a very rushed, immediate trip to an emergency veterinary clinic an hour’s drive away from here and – eventually – a diagnosis of congestive heart failure.  A completely heartbreaking moment.

I stayed out in the waiting room for hours as they worked with Graham, wondering what was going on behind closed doors, waiting for the final diagnosis for his little 12 pound body, and unsure if it just might be my final night with him.  Ten and a half years can seem like a long time when it comes to certain things.  But that time completely flies by when it comes to the most important things, like life and love…

Finally, I had the chance to speak to the specialist (with a major headache throbbing as I tried desperately to keep from crying – and completely failing in that regard since I could barely even see the vet through the tears in my eyes).  Fortunately, they were able to drain fluid that had built up in his chest surrounding his heart and lungs, give the little boy oxygen, and prescribe him medicines to temporarily address the issue.  But unfortunately, everything involved forced me to drive away and leave him in the back room of their office for two whole nights as he was pumped full of oxygen.

Over the next couple of days, while he served his time in a cage surrounded by loud, loudly complaining dogs, I tried to visit as often as I could (or as often as they would let me as all of the different receptionists came to recognize me). Occasionally, the office would text me updates and send me pictures to let me know how he was doing.  And it didn’t take him long to show his personality and attitude as he made it clear he was more than ready to come back home.

At one point I was told that Graham had hidden under the blanket, back in a dark corner of his cage, causing one of the staff to wonder if he was actually in there.  And, when she opened the cage, he tried to dash out.  Then, on one of my visits, when they finally allowed him to be taken out of the cage and brought out into one of the visitation rooms, I heard the vet comment in a playful voice just as the door was opened, “now don’t you swat at me”.  And I couldn’t help but laugh (for the first time in days), as I knew he was feeling better.

Since coming home, Graham has had his good days and bad days.  He’s been on multiple medicines – some that he doesn’t really mind, some that he doesn’t like, and one that obviously tastes absolutely horrible.  But even while he hasn’t always felt well, he’s purring 90% of the time when he’s awake.  And he still makes it clear to the robins, the blue jays, the blackbirds, and even the occasional dog, that he’s the boss of the neighborhood and nothing is going to change that.  We even had a snake – a nasty Coulber constrictor that was at least 5 feet long –  pass through the yard (coming directly to the door) and, as I tried to get it away while it lunged at me and bit the air close to me, Graham tried to get in front of me to take care of it himself.  And I had to make it clear to him that it was up to me to protect him, not the other way around.

So, while it’s been hard to type about his medical situation, and when I know that there’s a huge decision to be made very soon, he’s been living his life as full as he can, strong, happy and fearless.  And I’m holding onto all of the memories that have been, and are still being made.  Because even though that rainbow bridge will have new paws walking across it soon, and the pain will be excruciating, I’ve been blessed.  And when you get a blessing like that and it lasts for more than eleven years, the smiles will always exceed the tears…



The Messy Writing Process

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Ernest Hemmingway’s messy desk

Writing is messy work.  At least it is for me.

As someone who has suffered the occasional addictions to The Food Network on those random lazy Saturday mornings, I relate it to being a chef who just can’t keep his workstation clean.  No matter what I’m working on, I have a tendency to bounce back and forth between typing it out on the laptop, and scribbling out barely legible words on the printed page. There are a number of binders spread across the desk containing hundreds of printed pages as well. And hopefully some extra ink cartridges buried in the mess somewhere. They’re always needed…

It’s like having every spice from the cabinet sitting out on the counter. Piles of vegetable peelings still on the cutting board. Dirty knives, measuring cups and measuring spoons still within reach rather than in the sink (or in the  dishwasher). It’s not the best setup, I’ll admit it. But it’s worked.

It’s actually a lot like my last trip to the grocery store.  I went to the closest one in the area as I only needed one item – garbage bags.  This weirdly unique store is huge, well-stocked, and completely matching the way I see everything in Fayette County – random in where absolutely everything is located.

I found their Christmas items.  I found paper plates and plastic silverware (7 aisles apart from each other).  I found lawnmower oil and canned vegetables- right next to each other. And I found hot dogs and rat poison so close together it made me think…  And, after twenty minutes, I’d found almost everything they had to offer before finally – completely by absolute luck – stumbling across the garbage bags, located directly in between the circus peanuts (they really still make those?) and the mustard.  Seriously?  I don’t think it could have been more random.  Though, when I took them to the register and had to wait for a confused employee to ring up romaine lettuce for the person in front of me, and she couldn’t find it in the system because she was trying to spell ‘romaine’ without an ‘R’, I thought I was simply being punked.

However…it made me think about some of my own processes and somewhat disorganized ways. And as certain situations have given me even more motivation to write lately, I’ve decided to take up a new approach. Writing software.

Has anyone out there used Scrivener?  That’s my new challenge. It seems like a great program, and it seems like there’s lots to do with it, but guess what… I always seem to skip reading the instructions.  It’s cool that I can add pictures to remind me what places and characters look like, and that there are places for all of my research and notes.  I just need to get used to it.

I have a number of characters to add in for my next novel, so it’s a good time to really start using it.  I was going to have a character who works part-time as a Walmart cashier.  But I may have to move her to the local supermarket. Even if that would mean I’d have to go in there often to do research.  And to see how they spell things like romaine…


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One More Climb On The Old Car

It’s been a fairly quiet time in Fayette County lately.  A hot summer has lead into a nice, cool fall and now the leaves up in the mountains are just starting to turn all of their colors. The plants around the house are starting to slow down their growth, and maybe, just maybe, I’ve mowed the lawn for the last time this season.

And, in that season of change that fall is, I’ve made a big change myself, trading in my 13-year-old vehicle for something new. Okay, so maybe it was a bit less of a choice than necessity since it was technically illegal to be driving it over the past year or so (silly state inspection laws). But it was just time. And, because I have a major tendency to anthropomorphize things, it was way harder than I expected it to be.

The vehicle that I traded in was a great vehicle, a small SUV that had taken care of me for years and racked up plenty of miles without incident. And, as I took the last few items out of the dash, patted it on the hood and said thank you (don’t judge me) I couldn’t help but think through all of those moments in life that it took me through…

There was the first long trip we took together when it was a brand new car, less than a week old, driving up to MN, moving there for a job I wasn’t sure about, wondering if I was making a huge mistake.

There was the time I drove back home to MN from KY after seeing my grandmother for the last time before she died. 13 hours of driving, through the night and into the morning, fighting to stay awake with the memory of my grandmother wanting to kick me out of the house, not recognizing me and believing that I was her physical therapist that hadn’t visited for over two years.

There was the time I drove Graham home after meeting him for the first time at a St. Paul area PetSmart. Him howling almost constantly for the entire 20 miles from the inside of a cardboard box, the only time I’ve ever seen him scared in over ten years of life. And all through the drive, he never knew that I was more scared than him. Heck, I’d never been able to keep a houseplant alive. How was I going to take care of this little 6 ounce life that now relied on me for everything?

The times I drove through blizzards in the attempt to get safely home, the times I traveled for work, parking it in a hotel parking lot for weeks, or leaving it at the airport, inches of snow accumulating over it by the time I returned.

The people it carried in the passenger seat to restaurants, the theatre, sporting events, bars, festivals, mountains, beaches, and everyplace in between. The notes that were left under the windshield when conversations were too hard to have in person. The fender bender caused by a night without sleep. The license plates from three different states. The time I slept through the night in the passenger seat.

The luggage it carried in the back for trips to see family, romantic weekends, weddings, funerals. The drives to and from hospitals. The time I actually got away from the police in Illinois (completely by accident) by driving down a strange alley after going the wrong way on a one way street looking for a restaurant.

Trips to vets, trips to hardware stores, bags of mulch, bags of goodwill clothes. Slow, relaxing trips, and events of road rage (mostly mine). The week I worked as a rural postal carrier but quit because I couldn’t bring myself to put that car through the abuse.

Driving dates, driving family, driving coworkers, driving friends. Seeing all kinds of state limit signs through that windshield. The windshield now chipped from a couple of rocks kicked up from the road and now facing the wall of a dealership.

So yeah, I felt a little misty eyed as I walked away. My writers mind holds on to every memory. So those are all still with me, and always will be.  But fall is a time of change.

And, as I drove away, I wondered what name my new car would earn, what the years would hold with this one, and just what roads we will go down together…